The preschool at Congregation Beth Ami in Santa Rosa. (Photo/Courtesy)
The preschool at Congregation Beth Ami in Santa Rosa. (Photo/Courtesy)

Storm damage shutters long-running Santa Rosa synagogue preschool indefinitely

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Updated March 28 at 9:24 a.m. with correct date of citation.

The preschool at Congregation Beth Ami in Santa Rosa will close indefinitely starting next week, due to water damage from the series of atmospheric river systems that have inundated the North Bay community.

The Conservative synagogue’s Early Learning Center, formerly the Beth Ami Community Nursery School, will close April 5 until major repairs can be made to the building, CBA President Barb McGee wrote March 24 in a community email. The preschool has existed for over 40 years, according to McGee, whose son attended the preschool 16 years ago.

The Board was unaware, until the heavy January rains, that the roof was in such poor condition that it triggered leaks in multiple classrooms,” McGee said in her email. On March 9, the school received a citation from the California Department of Social Services–Child Care Licensing Division for roof leaks, HVAC damages and possible mold exposure, McGee wrote. She noted that a professional testing service found no evidence of mold.

The preschool, which currently serves 20 children, is held in five classrooms separated from the synagogue’s main building. 

“In the last two weeks the ground around the building had become so saturated, water intruded into the lower walls in one of the classrooms. That was the final straw,” McGee wrote in the email. “We cannot continue operating the school until there is an extended period of dry weather so that permanent fixes can be made.”

Congregation Beth Ami in Santa Rosa. (File photo)
Congregation Beth Ami in Santa Rosa. (File photo)

A roofer and HVAC specialist are scheduled to come out and assess the damage this week, McGee said in an interview with J.

Roofs can be fixed, but seepage from the ground is not good,” McGee said. 

Preschool leaders are waiting for the inspection reports to determine what repairs are needed, how much they’ll cost and how soon they can be completed.

Coming to terms with closing the preschool has caused McGee “a lot of sleepless nights,” she said.

These preschool teachers, they’re all looking for other jobs too because they can’t not work. It doesn’t just affect the children. It affects the staff too,” McGee said.

Her biggest worry is that, even after repairs are made, the building won’t meet the licensing requirements to continue operating the preschool, in which case the Beth Ami board would decide how to best use the facility.

Last summer, the synagogue renovated part of the preschool kitchen, the adult bathroom and the director’s office. One classroom got new carpeting and freshly painted walls. McGee said the plan was to gradually renovate the remaining classrooms.

“For this to happen, it’s been a real setback,” McGee said. “I go from being frustrated to concerned about the weather, to concerned about whether or not this building will be used again as a preschool.”

Jew,  Jewish,  J. The Jewish News of Northern California
Emma Goss.(Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
Emma Goss

Emma Goss is a J. staff writer. She is a Bay Area native and an alum of Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School and Kehillah Jewish High School. Emma also reports for NBC Bay Area. Follow her on Twitter @EmmaAudreyGoss.